The Blinding of Vasilko of Terebovl from The Tale of Bygone Years/The Primary Codex. (15th Century).

The Precious Knowledge of the Hypatian Codex: Detailed Chronicle of the Southern Rus

(Read the article on one page)

The Hypatian Codex , known also as the Hypatian Chronicle , is said to be the main source of information for the history of the Southern Rus’ (Kyivan Rus’.) The Hypatian Codex was discovered by the Russian historian Nikolay Karamzin in the Hypatian Monastery (also called the Ipatievsky Monastery) of Kostroma during the 18th century. It is said that the manuscript discovered by Karamzin was written during the 15th century. Since 1810, the Hypatian Codex has been kept and preserved in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

The Hypatian Codex consists of three separate parts arranged chronologically. The first part of the Hypatian Codex deals with the history of the Kyivan’ Rus’ up to the year 1110. This piece of work is known as the Primary Chronicle . The next part of the Hypatian Codex is a continuation of the Primary Chronicle , and is known as the Kyiv Chronicle . This chronicle picks up from where the Primary Chronicle stops and continues the narrative until the year 1200.The final portion of the Hypatian Codex is known as the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle , and covers the period from 1200 to 1292.This part of the Hypatian Codex deals specifically with the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, a state located in the regions of Galicia and Volhynia in present day Ukraine that was formed after the fragmentation of the Kyivan Rus.’

The Primary Codex

The Primary Codex is known also as The Tale of Bygone Years . This is due to the opening words of its lengthy title. The full title of this piece of writing, translated in English, is: “This tale of bygone years, of the origins of the Russian land, the first to rule in Kiev and how the Russian land came to be.” The Primary Codex is believed to have been compiled by Saint Nestor the Chronicler, a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv, around the year 1113. The Primary Codex begins with the Biblical story about the division of the earth between the sons of Noah, in which Nestor establishes that the Slavic peoples are the descendants of Japheth. The narrative then continues by speaking about the Slavs, the lands inhabited by them, and the history and customs of each tribe. Nestor then focuses on a tribe called the Polyanians, which settled on the Dnieper. This tribe is also referred to as the Rus’.

Guests from overseas, from The Beginnings of Rus’, The Slavs (1901) Nicholas Roerich

Guests from overseas, from The Beginnings of Rus’, The Slavs (1901) Nicholas Roerich ( Wikimedia Commons )

Nestor also gives an account of the founding of Kyiv, and the time when the Kyivan Rus’ paid tribute to the Khazars. No dates, however, are provided in these stories. The first year referred to in the Primary Codex is 852, the year in which Hoskuld and Dyri launched a campaign against Byzantium, and Kyiv was taken by Oleg. The narrative then deals with the lives of various rulers of the Kyivan Rus’ up till the year 1110.

The Kyiv Chronicle

The Kyiv Chronicle has been claimed that this work was compiled in the Vydubychi Monastery in Kyiv using a variety of sources. These sources include princely, monastic, and family chronicles and accounts collected in cities such as Kyiv, Chernihiv and Galicia. Like the Primary Codex , the Kyiv Chronicle deals also with the lives of the princes of the Kyivan Rus’. Interestingly, the crusades led by the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick I Barbarossa are mentioned in the entries for the years 1188 and 1190. Besides that, another point of interest is the first use of the word Ukraïna (Ukraine) to refer to the southern territories of the Rus’.

Frederick I Barbarossa (13th century)

Frederick I Barbarossa (13th century) ( Wikimedia Commons )

The Galacian-Volhynian Chronicle

Finally, the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle deals specifically with the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, and covers the period from 1201 to 1292. This chronicle may be divided into two sections. The first part of this chronicle is the ‘Galician section’, which speaks about events from 1201 to 1261, and concentrates on the reign of Prince Danylo Romanovych. The second part is the ‘Volhynian section’, covering the period of 1262 to 1292. The topics covered by this section include the reigns of Prince Vasylko Romanovych and his son Volodymyr Vasylkovych, and their relations with Lithuania and Poland. Apart from the call for a unified Rus’ under a strong prince to counter the power of the boyars, the anonymous authors of this chronicle also defend the claims of the Galician-Volhynian princes to the Kyivan throne.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The underwater ruins of Fuxian Lake in China are an enigma. Their age is enough to set the forgotten city apart, but the strange carvings still gracing the submerged stones really confuses archaeologists.
In an underwater investigation in Fuxian Lake, Yunnan Province, China, started on June 13, 2006, archeologists discovered remains of a group of huge ancient buildings at the bottom of the lake. The investigation team found numerous regularly placed stones featuring mysterious carvings.

Myths & Legends

Pagan Origins of Easter
Easter Sunday is a festival and holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world who honour the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three...

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article